Ballet Dancer

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Ballet Dancer


Most people love dancing. People dance at weddings, they dance at parties, they take lessons, they dance in front of their mirrors with no one watching except their stuffed animal collection. Humans have been dancing for thousands of years, to express joy, sorrow, to tell stories, to communicate without words. Dancing is part of what makes us unique as individuals, but it is also something that unites people all over the world.

For most people, though, dancing is nothing more than a hobby. While for many children, the dream of becoming a ballet dancer is often one that is vivid and powerful, it is the rare dreamer who grows up to make that dream a reality. It takes a very dedicated, determined, and driven person to make ballet a life commitment. Ballet dancers study jazz, modern dance, and ballet from around the world in their development as dancers. They spend years learning different techniques, including how to dance solo, as well as how to dance in large groups. They learn how to express emotions, feelings, and ideas through movement.

Not every aspiring ballet dancer has what it takes to be a success. Early on in their training, a ballet dancer and the ballet instructor will know if the dancer's body type, desire and self-discipline are suited to the ballet lifestyle. If not, the dancer may continue to dance as a hobby, or may choose to move into a different style of dance they are more suited to. However, it may be that they have what it takes to become a professional ballet dancer, and the seriously hard work can then begin.

Ballet demands constant practice, a vigilance in health care, and a careful control over diet, exercise, and practice sessions. There will also be hours spent performing the same steps over and over again, costume fittings, publicity, and touring with dance companies. Some dancers become involved in television work, which can mean some training in acting, and maybe singing, is required.

Ballet dancers are performers, and performing for people can be stressful, demanding on personal life and on emotions. Dancers also have to contend with the fleetingness of the profession, one injury, and their career as a performer can be over.
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  Interests and Skills  
Ballet dancers must be in excellent health, with strong muscles and good cardiovascular training. They should also dedicate themselves to eating well and abstaining from destructive behaviors. To be successful ballet dancers need self-discipline, motivation and confidence in the face of criticism. They also need to have good time and stress management skills, and the ability to think creatively, and learn things quickly. Most of all, they should love dancing, and have the desire to express emotions and stories with their bodies.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Practice
  • Maintain a healthy, nutritious diet
  • Attend regular training courses to learn new techniques
  • Audition for parts, commercials, and positions in companies
  • Regardless of whether or not they are training for an audition, or practicing for a role, ballet dancers spend many hours each day dancing. They will dance alone, or with a group of dancers. If they are involved in a production, there will be some time spent learning new steps, trying on costumes, and consulting with choreographers, other dancers, and directors about the upcoming performance. There will be some travel, especially if they join a touring company or cast.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Classical ballet dancers generally only work for dance companies, which travel around the wold, performing ballet to large audiences. They may work as a member of a large ballet ensemble, or take solo roles. Ballet dancers will work in studios and on stage.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Due to the competitive nature of the profession, ballet dancers need some sort of skill or interest to pursue in case of injury, or when they become too old to dance professionally anymore. Some ballet dancers may choose to branch out, and take on musical theater, modern dance or folk dancing. Many dancers become choreographers, while some become dance instructors with schools or head up a dance company. Some may choose to open their own dance school. Some ballet dancers leave the field all together, and become actors, writers or fitness trainers.

  Educational Paths  
Ballet dancers begin their training at a very young age, often as young as four or five years old. They may begin at a local dance school, and switch to a more prestigious dance academy if they show immense talent and desire. Ballet schools are linked to ballet companies, and this is often how dancers join companies. However, ballet dancers who want to work in theater, television or in less traditional dance companies can audition for the positions without having to go through the typical channels.

Some ballet dancers choose not to attend private dance schools, or the dance company schools. Instead, they may continue their training at universities, where they dance their way towards a bachelor of fine arts, and audition for ballet companies afterwards.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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